Sunday, 6 January 2008

'Only Australians' should be spared execution

Australia's acting prime minister has confirmed the government will only appeal for Australians to be spared the death penalty.

Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard was responding to calls from the Catholic Church for Australia to oppose the death penalty in all countries and under all circumstances.

According to The Age newspaper, Gillard said Australia would not intervene in death sentences for foreigners.

"Our position is perfectly clear. We support global moves against the death penalty [but] we only use our diplomatic resources on behalf of Australian nationals who are at risk of the death penalty overseas," she said.

"I think that that's entirely appropriate. Obviously our obligations are on behalf of our citizens and nationals. We intervene on their behalf."

Electing not to act
Shortly before last year's election campaign, Labor leader Kevin Rudd - now Australia's prime minister - said he would not make diplomatic moves to argue for clemency in terrorist cases, but would oppose the death penalty through multilateral channels at the United Nations.

"When it comes to the question of the death penalty, no diplomatic intervention will ever be made by any government that I lead in support of any individual terrorist life," Rudd said.

"We have only indicated in the past, and will maintain a policy in the future, of intervening diplomatically in support of Australian nationals who face capital sentences abroad."

The previous conservative government was criticised for only speaking out against the execution of Australian citizens, although former Prime Minister John Howard and other senior ministers had also signalled their approval when particular death sentences were handed down.

Related stories:
No Australian government will oppose terrorist executions -- 10 October, 2007
Australia: Rudd would oppose death penalty -- 24 June, 2007
Australia 'should act against death penalty' -- 03 August, 2006

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